Tanner Health System MyChart

  • Home
  • Unveiling the Truth About Varicose Veins: Top Myths Debunked

Unveiling the Truth About Varicose Veins: Top Myths Debunked

Aging can bring about a host of changes to the body, and one of the less talked about but common concerns is varicose veins. These knotted, swollen, painful veins may become more noticeable as you age, affecting not just your appearance but also your confidence and comfort.

Amid the maze of information available, truths often get blurred with myths. Let’s set the record straight for everyone who wants to understand these "vein matters" better.

The biology behind the 'visible veins'

Before we plunge into the myths, let’s understand what varicose veins are and why they develop.

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that occur in the legs. They develop in the superficial veins, just beneath the skin.

The primary reason for varicose veins is weakened or damaged valves in the veins. Arteries carry blood from your heart to the rest of your tissues, while veins return it to your heart, so the blood can be recirculated.

The veins in your legs work against gravity to return blood to your heart. Muscles in your legs—as well as the muscles of your heart—pump blood back through the veins. Tiny, one-way valves in the veins open as blood flows toward your heart and close to stop blood from flowing backward. Varicose veins result from valves that are not working properly, causing blood to pool.

Myth 1: Only older people get varicose veins

The Reality

While aging is a risk factor for varicose veins, saying that only older people develop them is far from reality. The chances of developing varicose veins increase with age, but even relatively young people can be affected.

More important is the role of genetics and lifestyle. If you have a family history of varicose veins, you're at a higher risk. Similarly, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and prolonged standing or sitting can accelerate the onset of varicose veins. Pregnancy also can be a risk factor for varicose veins.

Myth 2: Varicose veins are only a cosmetic problem

The Reality

It's often assumed that varicose veins are merely a cosmetic issue, something that can be hidden beneath clothing if one is uncomfortable with their appearance. However, this myth downplays the pain and discomfort people with varicose veins experience.

Beyond aesthetics, varicose veins cause aching, cramping, swelling and itching. In severe cases, they lead to skin ulcers or blood clots. It's crucial not to dismiss these symptoms as merely superficial — a proactive approach improves comfort and prevents secondary complications.

Myth 3: There's nothing you can do about varicose veins

The Reality

This couldn't be farther from the truth. While you can't change your genetics or stop the aging process, you can adopt measures to manage varicose veins.

Simple lifestyle changes can make a significant impact, such as regular exercise to improve muscle tone and circulation, weight loss, elevating your legs when resting and avoiding crossing your legs while sitting.

For those with more severe symptoms, medical treatments — ranging from minimally invasive procedures like sclerotherapy to more advanced options, like endovenous laser treatments and phlebectomy (actual removal of the veins) — are available. Don’t resign yourself to the belief that it's a condition you can't do anything about. Instead, consult with a vascular specialist to explore the best course of action for you.

Myth 4: Crossing your legs causes varicose veins

The Reality

Crossing your legs may not directly cause varicose veins — but it can exacerbate an existing condition, especially if you do it frequently. When you cross your legs, you put pressure on the veins, affecting blood flow contributing to varicose veins.

Consistently sitting with your legs crossed over time impedes the flow of blood back to the heart, causing vein issues to worsen. It's a small habit, but kicking it to the curb will positively influence your vein health.

Myth 5: Only women get varicose veins

The Reality

While the prevalence of varicose veins is higher in women — especially with the factors of pregnancy and hormonal fluctuations — men are also not immune to this condition. Men account for around 40% of varicose vein cases.

Men may experience different symptoms, such as pain or heaviness in the legs rather than visible veins, which can make it harder to diagnose. The underlying causes and risk factors remain the same.

Your next steps

Varicose veins are a common condition, but myths and misconceptions surround them. It's important to understand the biology behind varicose veins and the factors that contribute to their development. Don’t dismiss or downplay symptoms —there are proactive measures you can take to manage varicose veins and prevent complications.

It's never too late to take care of your vein health, and seeking medical advice can help you find the best course of action. So, let's debunk these myths and put our best foot (and leg) forward as you take your next steps towards good vein health!

Learn more at tannerveincenter.org now.

Surgical Services, Vascular Care, Women’s Care, Tanner Medical Group

Comments have been disabled for this post.